October 16, 2007

"Faith-based" WIU development?

"If we build it, the state money will come."

Is that the rational behind the launch of a preliminary construction project in support of the Western Illinois Universtity Moline riverfront project?

An article in the Quad City Times a while back explained that construction was beginning. Not on the actual school, mind you, nothing's being done with that, but $1.5 million dollars worth of "design and contstruction" for the ambitiously named, "Rivertech Boulevard" supposedly needed to make the area prepared for building the actual campus.

What the one and a half million federal dollars will get us is a raised roadway above the flood plain to provide what was termed, "an alternative entryway" to use during the brief and rare instances when River Drive is impassable due to floods.

Hmmmm. $1.5 million so people don't have to get their tires wet during a week or so every few years.

But the roadway is part of the grand scheme to develop the Moline riverfront from downtown all the way east to the site of the former Deere Administration building on River Drive, which is to be the center of the proposed WIU campus there. It's recently been reported that they're also trying to shoehorn in yet another hotel as part of the WIU project. (everyone gets a slice.)

But there seems to be something missing, some part of this story that doesn't quite compute. And that is this: They still don't have any funding to build the WIU project and no assurance that it will come.

From what I've seen reported, Durbin, Obama, and Hare have secured the federal funding (or at least taken credit for it) which is being used to construct "Rivertech Boulevard".

But the state money, $14.5 million, which would actually build the very facility which has been touted to the community and supposedly the very reason for the entire project, is nowhere to be seen.

This is on our local state politicians. What happened?

When the state budget battle was finally over, which by all accounts was a collossally messed up and fractious process, I asked the quesetion, which I thought people might want to know, as to whether any funding for WIU had emerged. Responses here assured that the funding for WIU had been secured. (and of course, the comments gave credit to, as usual, Mike Jacobs.) But this (again as usual) appears to be a lie.

There had famously been the intemperate blow up at the Governor who controls such spending, with "Big Mike" threatening to get greasy with Blagojevich and wrestle on a bar room floor, evidently. Then needless to say, his spinners were out trying to praise the Senator for being such a "tough guy". (some colleaques even jokingly gave Jacobs a pair of boxing gloves)

While an elected official who threatens to get into fist fights with the guy who controls state funding might seem really cool and macho to some, all and all, I think most people would prefer a different style and a state university campus in the area. Thanks anyway.

I thought at the time this probably wasn't a good way to get millions for the WIU project, and oddly enough, it appears my instincts were correct. Not to say that the funding would have been forthcoming if Jacobs hadn't resorted to threats of physical violence against the governor, but one might safely assume it would have been much more likely.

From all I can gather, not a dime of state funding for the actual construction of the WIU Moline riverfront campus has been secured.

If such state funding had been achieved, we'd be hearing Jacobs trumpeting his glory from the rooftops, and he'd probably be in need of professional orthopedic care from patting himself on the back so vigorously. Bearing that in mind, isn't it fair to notice that state funding is conspicuously absent for this major project and wonder why?

Jacobs positioned himself in the lead for this project from day one, even though other pols were involved. He'd certainly take credit if the funding were gotten, and rightly so. But when it all collapses, we don't hear a peep. Should anyone be held accountible for this failure at the state level? Local pols? The governor?


And why haven't any local outlets publically questioned the wisdom of what appears to be truly a "faith based" project of massive proportions.

They're beginning to spend huge amounts of federal dollars, tax dollars asked for and gotten based on the assumption that it would all be part of a larger project to bring a college campus to the Moline riverfront.

And they're going to go right ahead and spend this money, do the work, alter the riverfront permanently, and what.... cross their fingers that something works out?

Is this our version of the famous "bridge to nowhere"?

I'd guess that those in charge are simply clicking their heels together three times and repeating, "The state will pay, the state will pay, the state will pay...." in hopes that state funding will come through, despite Sen. Jacobs.

Maybe they know something we don't? Maybe they know the funding will come through? Are they crossing their fingers and resigning themselves to waiting until after the election? Who knows?

They're likely counting on the hope that after they've essentially spent millions of federal dollars building a way to get TO the WIU campus, that it might provide some pressure to actually provide funds to have a school there.

After you drive on the huge new roads with their millions of dollars of work done to safely wisk you to and from the campus without fear of getting your tires wet during the odd flood, it would be kinda nice if there was something there once you arrived.

It's almost like people building an expensive and elaborate landing area for extra-terrestrials they've been assured would come, then standing around waiting for the mothership to arrive.

The whole thing has the wiff of a typical boondoggle, with millions being spent and work provided to dozens of workers who will work long and hard to construct a project, even though the very rational for the project doesn't exist and there's no assurance it ever will.

Could someone please help me understand why there's no cause to think this is kind of, well, unusual?

Please tell me where I've got it wrong, because I sincerely hope I do. Otherwise it doesn't make much sense.

UPDATE: Thought explained already in comments, a commenter or commenter continutes to whine incessently that I haven't praised Big Mike enough for the fact that the WIU funds were at least included in the budget that has passed the senate and is now in the House awaiting their action. The House can OK the budget as is, or make amendments, or do nothing.
I'm not aware if they've taken any action as of the time this is written.

Jacobs has done his part, and now it's up to the Reps.


At 10/17/2007 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The money will be there - eventually. Blago has screwed up the State so bad, it will take time for the State finances to catch up.

It makes sense to start the ball rolling in any manner possible. Progressnow will make the next step easier.

At the same time, it likely has not done the project any good to have Jacobs and Blago in a war.

At 10/17/2007 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year, Sen. Mike Jacobs and Rep. Pat Verschoore secured $2.5 million to "plan and design" the university in Moline. This year, Jacobs put $14.5 million into the Illinois Capital Budget. Today the bill is in the Illinois House awaiting final legislative approval.

Concurrently, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is busy are crafting a Chicago gaming bill whhich he hopes will fund $14.5 million for Western in Moline.

As per your assertion "Jacobs and Blago are at war," you may want to review the facts. Fact is, Jacobs and Blago "buried the hatchet" a couple of months ago, and since that time the two leaders have worked together to turn our dream of a public university into reality. Proof of the "cease-fire" showed itself in Blago's effort to insert Jacobs' legislative projects into his State Budget and Capital Bill (Blagojevich vetoed Boland's legislative projects and approved Jacobs's projects). As well, newspaper accounts reveal Mike Jacobs was the "key vote" on Blago's Capital Bill.

while I realize it's difficult for political neophytes to comprehend the inner workings of state government, reading a newspaper or two may help. If for some reason you are unable to read, you could access the legislature when it is in session on the Illinois Channel. Not only would this program reveal how far behind the times you are, it would also make you a better blogger.

Federal dollars will add to the overall economic growth of our area. While I know that progress frightens you, I will try to comfort you by pointing out that you survived the opening of the new library!

As you well know, back-seat driving and carping about that which you know little about is easy, but mustering tens of millions of dollars to build a public university is hard!

At 10/17/2007 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering Dope if you read the Dispatch/Argus today? There was an article written by Stephanie Severs titled "Laborer's Union calls on lawmakers to pass Capital Bill". The article states that Senate has passed the bill and has the support of the Governor. This Capital Budget has the funding for WIU and many other projects for this area. I think that your blame of Jacobs is unfounded since it has passed the Senate or that your old grudge against Senator Jacobs has reared its ugly head again.

At 10/18/2007 10:14 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 1:58

OK. You've gone and done it. I've got a lot to get off my chest, so before anyone starts crying about a long response, just be warned.

Stop here if lots of words makes your head hurt.


So I'm now supposed to spend my time monitoring how well Jacobs and Blago are getting along?

Sorry old chap, I've got better things to do, (like anything else) and it's kind of bizarre for you to act as if I should know the status of the Jacob/Blago soap opera at any given time.

The only way any of us would know is if someone told us, so thanks for letting us in on how things are going on "As The Stomach Churns".

If Jacobs "buried the hatchet" with Blago, he must have a huge hatchet burial ground somewhere, because it seems a lot of what we hear from his hired mouthpieces such as yourself is about how he's "made nice" with whomever or whatever it was that he offended last.

You can also chide me all you want for not having the knowledge of a paid staffer or paid capitol reporter because I don't spend endless hours researching deadly dull legislative budget proceedures or keep myself abreast of every arcane battle and power struggle in Springfield.

I freely admit it. I don't enjoy doing that, especially when it comes to local stuff. Why? Well, because no matter what I write about it, or how much detail and fact and information I provide, I still get nothing but grief from the usual crowd. Who needs it?

You've also made the same mistake for years now and it's time you got it straight. I am NOT a paid reporter. OK? Blogs are NOT usually news outlets. I do not spend time in Springfield, I do not have a job working in state politics. In other words, since you clearly operate under the delusion that I am trying to be or should be, I AM NOT a blog like CAPITOL FAX. (nor could I ever come close to it.)

So GET THAT STRAIGHT and you'll be much less stressed.

I should mention here that in addition to Rich Miller's hard work and knowledge, I assume that Capitol Fax's blog thrives in part due to people or sources that TELL Miller things and keep him up to date on goings on, and who also contribute information in comments.

You say if I did this and that and the other thing it would make this a better blog.

If you'd provide answers to questions and shed some light on things rather than stand aside and carp that I haven't dug it all up myself, THAT would make this a better blog.

But sadly, this concept has either never occured to you or others, or you simply can't bring yourself to actually be of some help to me and the blog, then choose instead to carp that TID isn't as "insider" as you'd like.

Is the problem that one of you isn't running it? Why?

And doesn't it strike you as a bit odd that you knock me for supposedly not reading newspapers when the post you're bashing is based on what I read in a .... newspaper?? (cue Twilight Zone theme)

You mention The Illinois Channel. I've also been a long time supporter of the Illinois Channel, and have tried to get it carried locally, but Mediacom so far has chosen not to provide it. As a matter of fact, this blog is one of the only blog links featured on the Illinois Channel website, and I've had a link to them in the sidebar since they began.

Please direct me to exactly where on the Illinois Channel site that I can find out all this information you bash me for not having. (as if I'm paid to do that)

I'd like to be as learned as you, so please give me some direction and I'll gladly go take a look.

As to your rather odd assertion that anyone that's not actually IN government or a political flack somehow loses any right to question it or criticize it, I think you're way off base.

I find it offensive ESPECIALLY when we're talking about publicly elected officials, that anyone would have the nerve to try to argue that since someone isn't actually doing the politicians job, that they don't have a right to criticize or question their actions. That's amazing and disgusting.

When the Cubs blow a crucial game in the bottom of the ninth and fans loudly complain, I'm sure you'd scold and berate them too, right? Since playing pro ball is "HARD" just like doing the job you're supposed to do as Senator? Give me a break.

It's not a walk on the beach to produce a blog either, especially when you have a dedicated band of loons who think you don't have any right to do it.

But that doesn't stop anyone from attacking me in the most vile, personal ways imaginable (and beyond.)

I criticize Jacobs when I think he should be legitimately criticized, but even I don't question his right to be a senator, and I'm sure I don't make his job much harder, nor am I any threat to his keeping his job. I don't question his right to do what he does.

Yet Jacobs supporters have gone to utterly preposterous lengths to try to ruin the blog and otherwise kill it, as well as smear and defame me in every way possible.

They don't think I should even be allowed to exist.

So don't give me that bullshit about how since I'm not a state senator it's somehow unfair to be critical. Get real.

I'm sure a lot of politicians hate blogs. Too bad.

I'd humbly suggest that this is mostly due to the fact that politicians and their PR fronts are utterly clueless about what they are, what they could be, and how to feed and care for them as they do the traditional press.

You may not like it, and obviously you don't. But that doesn't mean it's not perfectly legitimate.

And I've said it so often it almost hurts to repeat it. If you want a blog JUST like YOU want it, then by all means, go start one. PLEASE. (and stop your pal from constantly suggesting that I "hand over" the blog over to you.)

And in the meantime, stop ragging at others for how they run theirs and start actually contributing for a change. What a concept, eh?

Unfortunately, you're also operating under the delusion that I somehow pretend to know all the details of what goes on with this WIU failure and that I hold myself out as some sort of grizzled political vet.

That's precisely why I put up the post! So someone could, hopefully, tell myself and readers what happened, maybe provide some details, much as you did in between bitching.

And you still pointedly avoid addressing the questions I raise, such as: Why is all this money being spent on one road to a project that isn't even funded? Isn't this a bit dicey to start building all this when funding is still up in the air?

You say it's in the suggested budget, but does that mean it's in the bag? I somehow don't think it does.

But instead of simply providing the information that you have in response to my asking, you chose instead to go after me personally and bash blogs in general. That's sad and quite telling.

And lastly and perhaps most importantly, if you think I'm so uninformed, here's a crazy idea: Since you apparently feel offended because you work in the trenches and know more details than I, how about providing myself and my readers some helpful or illuminating information once in a while instead of trying to attack me for simply raising legitimate questions?

You could add to the blog and make it more informative and interesting, but you don't dare do that.

Nah! That makes too much sense. And besides, the object isn't to inform people, it's to try to bash me in hopes I'll... what? Quit? Don't get your hopes up.

At 10/18/2007 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's the REAL inside dope from an insider - who prefers to remain anon . . .

the fact is that Blago vetoed all House dems pork projects and left in every Senate Dem's - it had nothing to do with Jacobs - it was part of a prearranged deal between Blago and Senate President Emil Jones . . .

for the record - there was 14.5 million in the senate version of the Capitol bill, but does anyone here really think it'll see the light of day?

use your head folks - Blago's boys fired Tim Mapes' (Madigan's Chief of Staff) wife from her state job - that's an unforgivable sin that everyone in the state will suffer for because the Capital bill is nothing but a pipe dream after that . . . Madigan's not going to let it see the light of day as payback for the firing and the fiasco that was Jones' sellout on the budget

At 10/18/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 10:18.

You write: ...your old grudge against Senator Jacobs has reared its ugly head again.

You have no CLUE what ugly is unless you've seen what's been directed this way from that direction. It gives new meaning to the word ugly.

You'd likely be slapping them with a lawsuit, not simply questioning their actions.

And I'm really sorry that I'm violating that rule that says that everyone MUST speak positively about all issues any politician is involved with or be dismissed as having a "grudge".

What utter phony bullshit.

At 10/18/2007 10:25 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 10:14.

You're my new hero. THANK YOU...

Some honest to goodness actual attempt to explain what's happening and why. And without even any attempt to slam me for asking in the first place.

Wow.... I was beginning to think it couldn't be done.

Well done! Keep it up.

At 10/18/2007 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon@1:58, if you've got such insight and influence, stop thumbing yer nose at us commonfolk...AND GET IT DONE.

At 10/18/2007 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Blago vetoed all House dems pork projects and left in every Senate Dem's..."

if this statement is factual, why did Rep. Jay Hoffman get his "pork projects" and Boland didn't? Isn't rep. Hoffman a House dem? fact is, Boland didn't get projects and Jacobs did. If this is how Blago punishes enemies I hope Jacobs continues to stand up for us!

At 10/18/2007 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huck Finn, I suggest that you call your state rep. and urge them as the laborer union has done. You thumbing your nose at anon@1:58 does nothing. It is time that you pick up your phone or E-mail and urge your State Rep to vote for WIU and the rest of the Capital Bill. It is on the House of Representatives plate now. This is the Gov's bill and the Senate has passed it. All we need now is for your rep to GET IT DONE.

At 10/18/2007 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon@10/18/2007 10:14 AM. You say the fact is that Blago vetoed all House dems pork projects and left in every Senate Dem's - it had nothing to do with Jacobs - it was part of a prearranged deal between Blago and Senate President Emil Jones . . .
This is not the case. There are house Republicans that got their money. Blaggo could have easily struck the funding for Jacobs district if he had wanted to. The fact of the matter is that Blaggo didn't want to and I think that for you to say otherwise is just ignorant.

At 10/18/2007 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Inside Dope wrote:

"If you'd provide answers to questions and shed some light on things rather than stand aside and carp that I haven't dug it all up myself, THAT would make this a better blog."

Your true identity has been revealed, Dope. You are none other than Mike Jacobs himself, as your clever reference to "carp" in the above sentence gives you away. Hide no longer and renounce anonymity! ;-)


At 10/18/2007 1:37 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...



You smoked (carp?) me out.

And to Anon 11:41, one question.

You say Jacobs got his "projects".

What projects did he get?

At 10/18/2007 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not anon 11:41 but I do read the paper. The house members had hearings about the projects that were cut from them. Jacobs recieved his projects. I was at the meeting where Senators Todd Seiben and Mike Jacobs stated that they found it to be wrong that they and many other Sneators and Representatives got their projects approved but some Reps that crossed Blago on the Gross Reciepts tax did not.
Maybe anon 10/18/2007 10:14 AM could tell you the exact projects that were cut from Boland and Verschoore and the projects that Sieben and Jacobs brought home. The meeting seemed to center on the projects that our Reps got taken away.

At 10/18/2007 3:23 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 3:15....
Wouldn't that be nice if someone could actually tell us what these projects that they say this person got or that person didn't get actually ARE?

It's one thing to make the vague claim, but another to actually name the bacon that was supposedly brought home to the district.

Since it would seem a piece of cake for Jacobs and his supporters who always lurk around here to point to these "projects", maybe we'll get some answers.

At 10/18/2007 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seiben got $1.1 million and Jacobs got $2.2 million.

At 10/18/2007 5:15 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Not sure why this is like pulling teeth, especially since you'd think the pols should be proud about it, but your half answer begs the question, FOR WHAT?

First it was that they got their "projects", now we get some big old round numbers.

We're moving in the right direction, but some hint of what these all-important "projects" are would be much appreciated.

At 10/18/2007 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If my rep doesn't vote for the Capital Bill, it won't be because of WIU.

At 10/19/2007 6:42 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Man I hate Illinois politics.

It seems like pure common sense that with $10s of millions in federal and local money practically waiting to be spent on the area surrounding the new WIU, its more than worth the $14.5 mil, or even the whole $70mil. Its like refusing to trade $2 for $5. Unfortunately the great elected representatives in Springfield and Chicago can't seem to get their minds around this, or simply don't care.

At this point, I almost wish local interests would take over and pay for this, renaming it the University of the Quad Cities or something. I'm quite sure, based on the amount of local support for this, that we could have gotten it done a long time ago. The only problem would be the operating funding.

I can't stand to follow the politics behind this very closely, but I haven't seen any politician standing up and issuing a well-spoken, passionate plea for WIU-QC. As far as this Iowan is concerned, I don't know that a single IL state congressman deserves reelection.

At 10/19/2007 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Paul Rumler.

The Illinois Public Transportation Association (IPTA)has named Mike Jacobs "Senator of the Year."

The Illinois Public Transportation Association is a statewide organization dedicated to achieving the best public transportation service possible. The organization :Advocates the value of public transportation, representing the legislative, regulatory and administrative interests of member, and providing a forum for the exchange of information, ideas and experiences.

Congratulations to Senator Mike Jacobs on this impressive honor!

At 10/19/2007 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Impressive to who?

At 10/19/2007 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dope, I thought this was a place to "discuss" (in quotes since that is a pipe dream apparently) local political races? Not a place to launch personal attacks against Senator Mike Jacobs.

At 10/20/2007 7:45 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Unsurprisingly, you're dead wrong on not one, but two points.

First of all, that description is for the local races (can of worms) link in the sidebar.

Secondly, if you think there's a "personal" attack on Sen. Jacobs anywhere in that post or any of my comments, you're flat out wrong.

If you can't stand questions about his performance or actions as a Senator, I suggest you stay away from politics altogether.

At 10/20/2007 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacobs passed the capital bill that passed the senate on a a bare majority. The bill contains $14.5 million to build Western in Moline. Now it's up to Rep. Verschoore and Boland to get the job done.

Sen. Mike Jacobs has gotten the job done, and your assertion he hasn't is a "personal" attack!

Is your point to say that Jacobs got the bill out of the Senate and is somehow responsible for Boland's failure to pass the bill?

At 10/21/2007 9:38 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 7:26,

You're just the kind of so full of it their eyes are brown person that couldn't possibly tell anything straight if their lives depended on it. You're twisted.

You should be a used car salesman or some phony preacher, or a politician....?

So now you're saying that anyone that says ANYTHING about Jacobs' job as a senator is making a "personal" attack.

That's so stupid it's laughable.

What the hell is your problem that you can't STAND anyone saying ANYTHING that's not full of fluff and obnoxious spin about the Senator?

I suggest you get over it real quick.

And as usual, you simply couldn't stop yourself from making up some invented "point" ... words to try to put in my mouth.

I didn't say anything like what you wish I did. Sorry.

Now just go bug someone else, OK?


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